Mar 31 2020
Planning and Strategy Management
Aren’t many vision statements just really a marketing statement? Aren’t most vision statements just ink on paper? Do companies really believe in their vision statements?
These are the typical questions I get asked in my strategy class when discussing company vision statements. As for my answers to these questions they are always: yes, yes and unfortunately, a big no.
Before I explain my answers, let me start by explaining what a vision statement actually is.
A company vision statement is a statement that describes the current and future objectives of an organization. It is intended as a guide to help the organization make decisions that align with its philosophy and set of goals. In some sense, the vision statement is a roadmap that shows its stakeholders where the company wants to be or the environment it aspires to live within.
A good vision statement is one that is short, clear, inspiring, and future oriented.
A good example is the following vision statement: “A world without poverty”.
This statement ticks all the characteristics of a good vision statement. It is short (only 4 words). It is crystal clear (no translation required). It is inspiring (it’s hard to see how someone could not be inspired by this statement). And it is future oriented (some could even say that it is too future oriented and that such a statement is unrealistic). The good thing about vision statements is that it is really meant for the employees. As long as it provides guidance and inspiration for employees, it doesn’t matter what others think. Can you guess which organization this statement belongs to?
So, let me end by asking a question myself. Does a company really need a vision statement?
Many strategists will say “yes, absolutely”. I tend to disagree though. Remember that the purpose of the vision statement is to provide guidance. If the company’s mission, values, or overall strategy are enough to provide that guidance, a vision statement is not a must.
One thing is certain though: It is better to have no vision statement at all than having a vision statement that no one at the company believes in or remembers. Spend time creating a meaningful vision statement for your employees, otherwise your time is better spent on actual execution.
Were you able to guess which organization wants to end world poverty? Of course, the organization should be a charity that actually works on alleviating world poverty. Otherwise, the statement would be meaningless.
As for the name of the organization, it is…
I’m sure google can provide the answer.
About the Author
Mr. Mohammed Nayal is a Partner with Meirc Training & Consulting. He holds a bachelor of science degree in systems and control engineering from Case Western Reserve University, a master of science in engineering economic systems from Stanford University, and a master in business administration from the University of California at Berkeley, all in the USA. In addition, Mohammed is a certified training practitioner (CTP) from the Institute of Performance and Learning, Canada.More